HIST 259 - Special Topics in European History
Content & topics vary by semester and instructor. May be repeatable for credit.
SPRING 2019 Topic: THE BLACK DEATH: MEDICINE, CULTURE, AND CRISIS IN MEDIEVAL EURASIA What disease was the Black Death of the later Middle Ages? How many people died and how did the survivors rebuild their lives and societies? Thanks to recent, revolutionary advances in paleogenetics, bioarcheology, and epidemiology, we can now answer these questions definitively: the Black Death was indeed plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, and it killed roughly half of all people in Europe, the Near East, and Central Asia during the fourteenth century. But these scientific discoveries demand that historians reevaluate the primary sources and historiography of the Black Death with a new understanding, now informed by genetic and genomic data. Students in this seminar will do just that, as we closely read and discuss the latest analyses of plague as both a pathogen and a historical actor, and explore the consequences of applying both historical and scientific methods to diseases of the past. (No previous experience in biology or genetics is required.)
Special Topics: Fall 2018: Crusade and Jihad: Medieval Holy Wars. The Crusades remain one of the best known, most controversial, and least understood events in Western history, as the imagery of crusading has been embraced and manipulated by presidents, terrorists, artists, and teachers. In this course students will explore the creation of the idea of “holy war” and jihad in Christian and Muslim societies and the key events and players of the medieval crusades to the Near East from the launch of the First Crusade in 1095 to the end of the Middle Ages. You will read primary sources from Christian and Muslim perspectives and examine some of the key historical arguments about the crusades, crusading, and their impact on European and Middle Eastern societies. The class will also explore the cultural memory of the Crusades in Western society and its impact on our interactions with the Islamic Middle East in modern society.
Anticipated Terms Offered: Offered every other year